When Autoblog was invited to one of those hurried and harried press conferences at the Shanghai Auto Show, and asked GM China president Bob Socia about car exports from China to America, they were told:
“It could very well happen. It could very well happen. You know, I’m not sharing any plans with you, but we try to keep open as to what makes sense … We’re open to be doing that. There’s no reason why we can’t be exporting to the States.”
We gave the matter short shrift. We know China-made Honda Fits are in Canada and elsewhere without giving people fits. Also, we have been following GM China’s export activities for many years. GM started exporting the Sail from China in 2010, making it “the first time a world-class automaker will export from China a model it developed in the country,” as the Nikkei said. Actually, it was GM that got China’s heretofore sputtering auto export machine going.
For some folks, like Chris Butler at the Franklin Center’s Watchdog site for Tennessee, GM’s exports from China were new. Butler called GM and asked whether China will become an export base for the General: He reached spokesman Greg Martin, who said:
“There will be no exports of these cars built in China. Cars that are built in China are sold in China.”
When asked about Ed Niedermeyer’s Wall Street Journal op-ed that said that “GM is targeting 100,000-plus exports of Chinese-made cars this year” Martin backpedaled, saying:
“Well, some of those vehicles may go to Indonesia, Taiwan or Korea. I don’t know if it’s 100,000 plus, but those places I just cited are also bases for smaller Asian markets over there for us.”
The spokesman did not know what he was talking about. He was wrong about 1) no exports of cars built in China, and 2) the Chinese exports only going to Asian markets. As a matter of fact, GM has been exporting from China for a decade:
2002: Shanghai GM to Export Engines to Canada:”The export of engines to North America represents a milestone for China’s most advanced automaking facility.”
2006: GM Bets China Will Become Crucial Export Base: “GM sends engines made by one of its joint ventures with state-controlled Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. to its plants in Canada and the U.S. The partners have also exported small numbers of Chevrolets, designed by a GM affiliate in South Korea, from China to Russia and Chile.”
2010: Shanghai-GM: Chevrolet Sails to Chile and Libya: “The passenger car joint venture of SAIC and General Motors said that it has received initial order for close to 10,000 Chevy Sails from countries outside China, mainly Chile and Libya.”
2012 (GM Annual Report): “Export sales from China reached 76,000 units in 2012 and are expected to reach 100,000 units in 2013”
2013: General Motors accelerates China push: …”[Bob Socia, who runs GM of China] said …GM plans to boost its exports from China to 300,000 by 2015. This year the company expects to export between 100,000 to 130,000 vehicles.”
2013: “Through its China-based business, GM exports vehicles such as the Chevrolet Sail to other markets, including South America and the Middle East.”
2013: “Shanghai GM doubles exports of Chevy New Sail … Its main export markets include Chile, Peru, Algeria, Ecuador, Colombia and India.”
GM has been exporting from China for more than 10 years. It is shipping cars from China not just to smaller countries in China’s periphery, as Martin said. The cars go to South America, Africa and the Middle East. Cars that go there from China don’t go there from America. GM wasn’t bailed out to create jobs in China. It was bailed out to create jobs in America. It wasn’t bailed out so that its spokesmen can lie to the taxpayers that were forced to fund the bailout.